What are the Royals Future Plans for Wil Myers? (Jerry Lai-US PRESSWIRE)

Where Does Wil Myers Fit in the Royals Plans?


The 2011 season saw the beginning of a changing of the guard in Kansas City.  Several of the young players we’ve been hearing about for years were called up and made their debut performances in the majors.  Eric Hosmer, Salvador Perez, Mike Moustakas, Johnny Giavotella, and a slew of young relief pitchers demonstrated why the Royals have been predicted to contend beginning in 2012 and compete for a playoff berth in the near future.  Notwithstanding the fact that Giavotella was recently demoted to Omaha and Salvador Perez’ recent injury, the Royals youth movement looks very promising.

One of the premiere players predicted to lead the second wave of the youth movement is outfielder Wil Myers.  Myers was drafted in the 3rd round of the 2009 draft, not because there were 90 players available who were more talented, but primarily because of “signability issues.”  He’s a first round talent that Baseball America has ranked as the Royals 3rd best prospect behind Mike Montgomery and Bubba Starling.  Myers began his minor league career as a catcher, but was moved to the outfield to hasten his development time and to make way for defensive whiz Salvador Perez – very good forward thinking on the Royals part.

Wil Myers experienced nothing but success during his first two seasons of professional ball.  However, in 2011, he struggled at the plate, hitting just .254 in 99 games for the Northwest Arkansas Naturals.  You might think that Wil’s knee injury suffered early last season from jumping over a wet sidewalk, or the subsequent stitches and staples, or the resulting infection and ultimately surgery were the issues that derailed his progress.  However, Myers said he was just thinking too much, “I was pressing and overthinking things.  Trying to work on too many things.  I couldn’t get my foot down (for proper timing.) I was getting a little too selective.“

Last Fall, Myers found his touch again at the showcase for young talent, the Arizona Fall League.  Myers tore up opposing future pitching stars to the tune of .360/.481/.674, one of the top performances in the AFL and better than Bryce Harper by every measurement except home runs.

It was reported last November that the Royals were interested in the Atlanta Braves starting pitcher Jair Jurrjens, but the deal was nixed because the Braves wanted Wil Myers in return.  There are mixed reviews on Jurrjens future and his persistent knee problems, but he is projected as the Braves opening day pitcher on a deep staff (due to Tim Hudson’s injury) and he certainly could have improved the Royals weak starting rotation.  If this report is true, the fact Dayton Moore didn’t pull the trigger on the trade tells us the Royals have plans for Myers that involve using him as more than just a trade chip.

Assuming Myers picks up anywhere near where he left off in the AFL, he’ll be banging on the Royals door sometime this year.  The question is, what do the Royals do with him when this happens?  Dayton Moore, Ned Yost and company haven’t answered this question yet.  With a trio of skilled outfielders already patrolling the grass at Kauffman, the Royals brass will have some tough decisions to make.

It’s unlikely Wil would be promoted just to sit on the bench as the 4th outfielder as this could stunt his continued development.  It’s best for him to be a starting outfielder, regardless of whether this occurs in Omaha or Kansas City.  The only potential easy answer would be that Myers (if he performs well) could be called up when a starting outfielder stumbles, which of course we all hope doesn’t happen.  I think we would all prefer that his strong performance in the minors demands a promotion rather than receiving a promotion by default.

While the most likely destination for Wil is in right field, he has played all three outfield positions in the minors.  Although Alex Gordon hasn’t been locked up long term yet, we all believe it’s just a matter of time before this happens, and the consensus opinion says the delay hasn’t been for any lack of desire on the Royals part to get a deal done.  This makes it unlikely that Myers would inherit left field.

Myers could go to center field, but this position isn’t a natural fit for him.  We haven’t seen a large sample size from Lorenzo Cain hitting against major league pitching, but in Spring Training he has demonstrated the probability that he can more than hold his own.  So once again, it’s somewhat unlikely Myers would end up in center field.

Will fan favorite Jeff Francoeur be the odd man out in the Royals future outfield alignment? (US PRESSWIRE)

This leaves Jeff Francoeur, the fun loving, cannon-armed leader of the Royals outfield as a potential casualty of a Wil Myers promotion.  Would the Royals then trade Francoeur to a contender if Myers promotion occurred prior to the deadline?  It’s possible, but Frenchy is signed through 2013 and while his pay rate isn’t outrageous, at $7.5 million in 2013, it isn’t an amount that most teams would be excited to take on.  Francoeur is a team player, but it’s hard to picture him sitting on the bench next to Yuniesky Betancourt.  (Yuni is going to be sitting on the bench, right?  Please tell me Yuni will be sitting on the bench…)

Another possibility is that Myers performs well this year, but not so well that he can displace one of the Royals current outfielders.  (Does that sound familiar Lorenzo Cain? Déjà vu from 2011.)  Then maybe he’ll receive a call up in September and a taste of the big leagues to see what he can do at the major league level.

None of this conjecture really provides us with any answers for 2012, and if the Royals have any answers regarding their plans for Myers, they aren’t revealing them yet.  It’s possible that things could work out so the Royals won’t be forced to make a decision this year.  But next year in 2013, barring a major injury among Gordon, Cain, Francoeur, and Myers, or a major setback in performance from any one of this group, the Royals will have no choice but to let us in on their little secret.

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Tags: AL Central Alex Gordon Baseball Bubba Starling Dayton Moore Eric Hosmer Jair Jurrjens Jeff Francoeur Johnny Giavotella Kansas City Kansas City Royals KC KC Royals Lorenzo Cain Mike Montgomery Mike Moustakas MLB Ned Yost Royals Salvador Perez Wil Myers Yuniesky Betancourt

  • jim fetterolf

    I doubt it’s a secret, the Royals just don’t know yet. If Myers does a Hosmer on AAA, Gordon might get traded for a big haul of prospects. If Myers performs like Cain at AAA and if the Worst Outfield Ever doesn’t falter, Myers will get a full year at Omaha and start there in ’13. If he dominates the first half oif ’13 and if Gordon is signed, Frenchy gets to be a 4th OF for a few months. Most important thing is Myers has to perform, all the decisions after that are fairly easy… wonder if Wil can play 2nd:)?

  • eric.akers

     @jim fetterolf I have seen you reference the “Worst Outfield Ever” several times now, not just on this site, and I am wondering where it comes from originally.  I have my guesses, but I have not spent a lot of time on other Royals sites for a while now.

  • jim fetterolf

     @eric.akers Worst Outfield Ever, that I first saw, was at Royalscentricity, Dec. 8th or 10th, 2010. One of my favorite examples of those who give total weight to history and refuse to accept that players, or probably everyday people for that matter, can make substantive changes in order to become better at their jobs and lives. As you’ve probably noticed, I disagree with that view, which puts me in the position of defending at least the possibility that Luis Mendoza can pitch in the majors and that Chris Getz can get a little more pop in his bat and even that Frenchy and Bruce Chen are not required to regress to replacement level. Now I use Worst Outfield Ever as a reminder to my philosophical opponents of another little piece of history that does have something to do with the discussion.
     
    Do you ever drop by Judging The Royals? You might enjoy it if you’re into the nuts and bolts of baseball and generally good discussions. Along with Kings of Kaufman, for the excellent writing, and Pine Tar Press for the great coverage of the minor leagues, it is a favorite site of  mine.

  • eric.akers

     @jim fetterolf I do like Judging the Royals.  It has shown me some new ways of looking at particular aspects of the game.  There are several sites that I have stopped frequenting because they all say almost the exact same thing and you are not allowed to dissent without getting flamed and called a moron.  I can’t completely stop visiting those sites however because I have a need for Royals information and they still have some good insights on some things once in a while when the rhetoric is not ‘DM is a moron’ or ‘so-and-so is the worst player in the history of the game.’

  • the5allens

    another option is to bring the DH into play.  I have said before, I am a Billy Butler fan.  But, he may be the most attractive trading piece of all of these players (although if Gordon repeats 2011, that should change).  As we watch the Soria situation unfold, we all (hello GMDM) should be mindful of the danger of holding on to a player for just a bit too long.  IMHO, we are still a few pieces away, and I don’t think we have those pieces in our bag.  So a trade may not only bring those pieces, but may also open a spot for a hard-charging Wil Myers.  And then, rinse and repeat in a few years when Starling is ready